BitPay Announces Plan to Display BTC Prices in Bits

BitPay announced a plan for prices on its service to be expressed in bits, not BTC or mBTC.

AccessTimeIconMay 2, 2014 at 8:25 p.m. UTC
Updated Sep 14, 2021 at 2:07 p.m. UTC

Weighing in on a topic that has recently risen to prominence in the bitcoin community, Georgia-based merchant processor BitPay has announced a plan for prices to be expressed in 'bits' on both its website and for customers.

The argument recently gained widespread exposure on reddit, with many supporters of the transition arguing that bitcoin's current divisions - mBTC, μBTC and cBTC - are too complex for mainstream consumers.

Noted bitcoin developer Jeff Garzik, who authored the post, indicated that BitPay decided to voice its potential support the change as it was an important "human interface" issue that warranted consideration by the industry.

Garzik explained just one issue the transition will solve, writing:

"Many popular accounting and finance packages have problems when prices extend beyond two decimal places. The move to micro-bitcoins ensures, both now and in the future, wider compatibility."

The company's Bitcoin Core Developer went on to explain why other alternative denominations are less attractive given the mass-market goals of bitcoin.

He confirmed to CoinDesk that BitPay would proceed with the plan, "assuming positive feedback" from the community.

Making prices more intuitive

Garzik indicated that BitPay's proposal is to move to six decimal places, up from four, drop the zero at the beginning of prices and add, at most, two decimal places to prices.

Garzik wrote:

"At a higher level, people are more familiar with prices expressed in numbers extending no more than two decimal places.

This assumption is built into cash registers, spreadsheets, amount input dialogs and basic, person-person real-world transactions."

As an example, Garzik indicated that paying 9,123 bits would be more intuitive for consumers than spending 0.009123 BTC.

Alternative options

Garzik also discussed why the company may not move to milli-bitcoins (mBTC), reasoning that it is a less attractive long-term option given that a transition to micro-bitcoins may be needed.

He concluded:

"Best to make the change once, now, while bitcoin is young."

For more on the current debate over how to break down bitcoin, read our full analysis.

Cash register via Shutterstock

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